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Posted by on Feb 28, 2013 in Blog, Change, Culture, technology and travel, Travel |

Geared Up and Geeked Out: Thoughts on Travel and Technology

Geared Up and Geeked Out: Thoughts on Travel and Technology

“They don’t look out the window,” said a crest-fallen mother referring to 21st century children on car rides. I think back to the days when my two sisters and I occupied ourselves on long drives by staring out the window, playing games, and reading. On one particular vacation, we drove the entire way from Georgia to Pennsylvania in the back of my dad’s pickup truck entertaining our friend’s former pet skunk Stinky. Sidenote: if you ever want some guaranteed fun, take a skunk on a leash for a potty break at rest stops on I95. To what extent has technology changed how we travel? What are we losing and gaining by being geared up and geeked out on our journey? Technology has changed nearly every aspect of travel– the way we plan travel, book transportation and housing, keep in contact with home, manage our finances,  record our memories, and reflect on our experiences. In other words, technology has changed how we travel but it has not changed why we...

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Posted by on Dec 17, 2012 in Blog, Change, Culture, International Education, Relocation, Study Abroad, Teach Abroad, Travel, Volunteer Abroad, Work Abroad |

The Art of Asking: Travel with Questions Not Answers

The Art of Asking: Travel with Questions Not Answers

He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever. — Chinese Proverb Questions are essential tools for the traveler. A good question opens doors, conversations, and hearts if the response falls on the ears of an attentive listener. A question may also be the origin of a new friendship, companionship, or opportunity. A question can divert aggression, misunderstanding, and bring clarity to an uncomfortable moment because it requires the suspension of judgement to find out more. Asking a good question begins with keen observation of self and extends to the other. What is a good question? A good question takes into account the person asking and the person it is directed at. What do I want or need to know? Why is this information or story important to me? Where does this person come from? What is important to her? How does he express what he values? What is being communicated through body language that is not...

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Posted by on Dec 16, 2012 in Blog, Culture, Photos, Travel |

Backgammon in Nicosia, Cyprus

Backgammon in Nicosia, Cyprus

This photo was taken in the Old City of Nicosia, Cyprus, where backgammon is a game the old and young play in their spare time. The title is “East/West” as a reference to the contrast of old and new worlds– the traditional and modern. The poster and calendar display messages in English and one of the men is wearing a popular Western brand but all of the men in the picture are traditional Cypriots playing a game that originated in Persia (Iran) thousands of years ago in the last divided capitol of the world. I had permission to capture this moment on a Sunday afternoon in the Old City Nicosia and I have always enjoyed the subtle contrasts in this photo as well as the clear streams of light filtering in onto the scene. This photo is entered into a contest and you can vote for it by liking or sharing it from BarrelHopping’s website....

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Posted by on Nov 21, 2012 in Blog, Culture |

Thanksgiving with Foreigners

Thanksgiving with Foreigners

Thanksgiving is an excellent holiday to spend with foreigners. When I think about it, Thanksgiving began as a holiday of foreigners sitting down together. Even though this Thursday I will be sitting around a table in Central PA with family, I remember eating escargot instead of turkey on Thanksgiving, and I fondly remember the six Thanksgivings I shared with foreigners and stragglers far from home. The year I lived in Jacksonville I hosted a Guatemalan couple, their Colombian friend, and my friend Oksana who is originally from Kazakhstan. I will never forget the conversation that ensued at the dinner table when Carlos asked, “What is this holiday about anyway?” Oksana and I regaled them with a mix of US history and folklore involving Squanto, the Pilgrims, surviving the winter, and giving thanks together. In Northern Ireland, the MA students from the US organized a feast and we invited all of our friends. The people who gathered came from Japan, Colombia, South Africa, Northern Ireland, the UK, Hungary, and Spain....

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Posted by on Nov 20, 2012 in Guest Post, Study Abroad, Travel |

The Fool: Tarot Readings in Russian

The Fool: Tarot Readings in Russian

Since my high school and university days, I’ve been aware what a party-pleaser tarot cards are. Many people love to have their cards read, whether they believe in them or not. When I went to Russia during my junior year of college, I made the mistake of leaving my tarot cards at home in Denver but luckily managed to find another deck in St. Petersburg. I read the tarot cards for just about every teacher in the school (except for Julia who is quite religious and believes it is the work of the Devil). The twist? I have to do it mostly in Russian. Two of my most frequent requests for readings come from Kostya, the night security guard (whose day job is history teacher at a local secondary school) and Sergei Ivanovich, a director of something for the school. (I’m not entirely sure what Sergei’s job is in fact, I just know that he’s the husband of Katya, definitely the director of the school and that he pays...

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